“Home improvement can be the biggest expense a consumer will make during a given year – and with the wrong contractor it can be fraught with risk,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “Dishonest contractors can leave consumers with unfinished or unsafe projects that can be very expensive to fix. Fortunately, New Jersey’s registration laws require contractors to act with transparency and accountability.”
In 2014, the Division received 1,251 consumer complaints in the “Home Improvement” category, the number-one complaint category for the year. The Division took aggressive action last year against unregistered and otherwise noncompliant contractors, including 40 Consent Orders that assessed more than $189,000 in civil penalties and consumer restitution, and 130 Notices of Violation seeking more than $2.1 million in restitution, penalties, and costs.
Consumer Advice on Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor
New Jersey law requires all individuals or businesses, who solicit and/or perform home improvement work, to obtain registration from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. To become registered, a contractor must have a legitimate street address and at least $500,000 in liability insurance, among other requirements.
Hiring a Home Elevation Contractor:
New Jersey’s home elevation contractor’s statute establishes the registration requirements for businesses that offer home elevation work, defined as raising an entire residential or noncommercial structure to a higher level above the ground.
Home elevation contractors must have a named person in an ownership, employee, or consultant position with a minimum of five years’ experience in home elevation. They must maintain specific insurance coverage, as described below. They must apply to the Division of Consumer Affairs for registration as a home elevation contractor, and provide the Division with specific information about the company. (A limited exception to these requirements applies to home elevation contracts signed before October 1, 2014).
Consumers seeking to hire a home elevation contractor should:
Hiring Other Licensed Professionals:
Home improvement contractors and home elevation contractors must obtain registration from the Division of Consumer Affairs. Other occupations that work on homes – electrical contractors; fire and burglar alarm installers and locksmiths; heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) contractors; and master plumbers – must be licensed by a State professional board.
Before hiring one of these professionals, check the Licensee Search
link on the Division of Consumer Affairs’ website, or contact the Division by phone, to learn whether the person or business has the appropriate license and that their license is active and in good standing. You can also learn whether the licensing board has taken any public disciplinary action against the licensee.
Additional Information from the Division of Consumer Affairs:
Consumers can find additional information in the following, free publications on the Division’s website:
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of marketplace abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.